How to sue IBM in three easy steps

A class action hard drive special

UK-based users suffering problems with IBM's 75GXP range of hard drives can join in on the class action suit against the company.

As long as they are not involved in filing a similar suit in the UK, there is no reason why they can't join the existing suit filed by American Michael Granito against IBM for defects in products, says legal consultant Dai Davis of Nabarro Nathanson IT law consultants.

Several UK readers have written in to The Reg querying this possibility to obtain some compensation for the problems they have encountered. In short, it goes like this:

Step 1: Ensure that you own a defective IBM 75GXP drive and have relevant documentation regarding its purchase and some kind of proof that the drive is defective.

As Granito's complaint reads, "Contrary to IBM representations, the Deskstar 75GXP is defectively designed and/or manufactured such that it is not a reliable HDD and fails to function properly. When the defect manifests by the sudden occurrence of a loud clicking or scratching noise, the Deskstar 75GXP stops operating and 'crashes.' The result of the crash is the irreversible and permanent loss of data and software programs installed on the Deskstar".

Step 2: Find marketing documentation or advertising material produced by IBM for the UK market that makes the same claims/representations as the US advertising and marketing.

The US press release issued at the time made the following claims: "Users will benefit enormously from Deskstar 75GXP's ability to store more movies, pictures, music and business information on their PCs ... Dramatic improvements in storage capacity, performance and reliability."

Step 3: Contact the legal firm representing the American litigant and sign up to join in on the action. (See Philadelphia-based law firm Sheller Ludwig & Badey for more information).

In America, class action means that anyone experiencing similar problems to those instigating the suit can join in, free of charge, and potentially reap some of the rewards, without having to fork out any legal fees. Should the case be won, the legal firm that helped carry it through gets a chunk of the winnings, typically a third. Of course, it also bears all the costs of the case, removing any risk from the plaintiff pursuing the case.

Things are a little different in the UK. While class action certainly exists, it is not of the free variety (unless you're very lucky and can find a willing law firm). So, it's the depths of your pocket versus IBM's, not a fight many would wish to get involved in. Also, payouts in UK courts tend to be more realistic (read: less) than US courts.

Breast is best

A similar example is the class action suit filed by hundreds of thousands of women around the world against the Dow Corning company for faulty silicone breast implants. There are now dedicated sites set up by law firms, like this one, for those wanting to jump onto the Dow Corning payout.

Another issue plaguing some IBM users was the delay often experienced when returning drives to IBM for repair, sometimes up to six weeks.

Earlier, a reader noted that IBM has a "Drive Fitness Test", which is able to analyse your Deskstar drive and even "restore drive fitness". In this case, when his 75GXP drive started making various undesired noises, he downloaded the kit, went through the lengthy backup process (the fixing part of this program requires a low-level drive format) and voila everything was back to normal. However, this solution only addresses the repair of bad sectors.

Deskstar 75GXP technical specifications

7,200 rpm, six capacities: 75/60/45/30/20/15 GB,
1 to 5 glass disk platters,
11.2 billion bits areal density,
8.5 ms average seek time,
444 Mb/s maximum media data rate, up to 100 MB/s host data rate,
2 MB buffer,
3.0 to 3.6 Bels,
giant magnetoresistive (GMR) recording heads, load/unload technology. ®

Related Stories

Deskstar 75GXP: the pain continues
IBM hit with hard drive class action suit

Related Links

Copy of the Filed Complaint
SL&B's IBM 75GXP Class Action Home Page
The Original IBM 75GXP Press Release
IBM's hard drive reliability page
IBM's Deskstar Product Information

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